In 2010 attendance was up at Tropicana Field with more than 1.8 people walking through the turnstiles. High ticket sales aren't just good for the Rays; it is good for the city of St. Petersburg. With each ticket sold, the city gets a tiny slice of the pie.
Since 2010 the city has set that 2010 attendance number as the baseline ticket revenue expectation. However, in that time span attendance has been down, which means the taxpayer subsidy for the Trop increases.
During a Monday Budget, Finance and Taxation Committee meeting, city council learned that lower attendance numbers, and fewer events at the Trop, added $221,000 to the 2012 budget shortfall.
In 2012, the Tampa Bay Rays ranked dead last in Major League Baseball in attendance despite being in the wild card hunt in the final week of the season.
Mayor Bill Foster said it is not just fewer in attendance at Rays games that caused the higher subsidy, but fewer events — such as concerts — used the Trop in 2012.
The city said it will use the 2012 attendance numbers as the baseline for revenue projections going forward so staff is not coming back to council next year asking for more money to cover the fiscal year 2013 budget because of Trop revenue adjustments.
Rays Attendance Last 10 Years:
Average Per Game
In a coincidental move Thursday, the Rays announced many ticket prices would either remain the same or see a reduction. For those who carpool, parking will continue to remain free as well.
The Rays will continue with four categories of single-game ticket pricing: Diamond, Platinum, Gold and Silver. Upper Deck seats will cost as little as $10 for 28 of the Rays home games in 2013. Overall, nearly 80 percent of 2013 Rays games at Tropicana Field will feature ticket prices of $14 or lower. For Gold games, Outfield prices have dropped from 2012 pricing by nearly 25 percent from $22 to $17.
Earlier this year, during the All-Star break in Kansas City, MLB CommissionerBud Selig called out Rays fans about the poor attendance.
"To study the attendance figures every day and see that they're 29th in attendance, it's inexcusable," Selig said. "Nobody can defend that. This is a very competitive baseball team. The average Major League attendance is between 31,000 and 32,000. And if my memory is serving me well, Tampa Bay's attendance is around 19-something. It's disappointing."
In related news, StPetePolls released its newest St. Petersburg survey showing a vast majority of St. Petersburg residents oppose the city taking out loans to build a new stadium.